I WOULD like to begin the new year positively as I believe many of us in Scotland would.

Scotland’s poor health and high levels of poverty are constantly featured in the mainstream media as an example of Scotland’s inability to manage itself.

But there is an irony in this – if we are so much better together, why is poverty in Scotland so endemic, and why are our levels of poor health so much worse than in England?

My own view is that the Westminster Government has little interest in developing a strategic long-term plan to fund and support initiatives to alter the Scottish statistics for poor health and poverty.

The latest example of this is the Conservative Government’s refusal for the establishment of safe, clean spaces for Scottish drug users to access help and support.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has been universally admired for her cautious and well-informed approach to the handling of the Covid crisis for the last two years.

Westminster vetoes and an open border make it difficult for the long-term management of Omicron and whatever virus follows it.

The Scottish Government should capitalise on the success of the First Minister’s management of this health and economic crisis by turning its back on the doomed idea of asking for a Section 30 order. Instead, it should make peace with the Alba Party and call all elected members of all parties to a national convention.

We should take a vote on independence and if there is a majority, we should act. We should declare independence by withdrawing from the Treaty of Union or by calling a plebiscite election. If this is legally contested by the UK Government, we can by then have won international support and recognition by the UN and some of our friends and colleagues in Europe. We need to find our courage like some of our famous forebears.

Maggie Chetty, Glasgow.




I REFER to David Leask’s very pessimistic view on the Scottish relationship with the EU (“The big problem with Scotland’s skin-deep love of the EU”, January 8).

He does not mention the Withdrawal Bill or the Internal Markets Bill, both now passed, which take powers coming from the EU to Scotland and gives them to Westminster.

Nor does he mention the high standards on health and safety which came from the EU – for example, in the building, agriculture and water industries.

Looking at the water industry, we now see the picture in England, where sewage is repeatedly discharged into rivers because money has not been spent to raise standards to EU levels – as it certainly has been in the publicly owned Scottish water industry.

Thames Water was fined over £20 million in 2017 and £2m in 2018 but now this sanction has gone. I think Scots appreciate that the EU has brought them these high standards, including also on human rights, though they do not understand the details of EU law.

They have the SNP President, Mike Russell, and SNP MPs like Alyn Smith and Philippa Whitford as well as SNP MSPs like Christina McKelvie and Jenny Gilruth to keep them informed on the hurdles as well as the benefits of Scotland joining the EU and becoming a normal European country enjoying self-determination at last.

Susan Grant, Tain.




LYNDSEY Ward (letters, January 7) makes some important points about the current difficulties associated with wind power as a source of renewable energy: the wind doesn’t blow all of the time; at times too much wind is blowing so the generators get compensation; and there are difficulties with our current grid system.

None of this can be denied but your correspondent carefully avoids the other side of the issue.

We cannot carry on generating electricity using fossil fuels if we wish to avoid a catastrophe caused by global warming.

So your correspondent has, in my view, two options – either deny global warning or offer a solution to the generating issue.

In my view, wind generation, imperfect as it is, is a significant option for the UK and, in particular, Scotland.

Undoubtedly, new technologies need to be developed to store unusable power, maybe in the form of hydrogen, but there seems little point in just burying our heads in the sand and doing nothing.

So, come on, Lyndsey Ward – unless you are a climate change denier, tell us what are your solutions to the major energy issue of the day – namely, how to phase out fossil fuels.

John Palfreyman, Coupar Angus, Perthshire.




SUSAN Swarbrick’s very interesting piece about Kelvin Hall in Saturday’s magazine brought warm winds of nostalgia.

I have many fond memories of the Hall – getting Henry Cooper’s autograph at the Motor Show, going to see Billy Smart’s circus, and taking my own children to the crisp, shiny new transport museum.

Another magical memory which sticks in my mind was being asked to take part in the opening of the Kelvin Hall International Sports Arena.

As an amateur wrestler, I was invited to participate in a wrestling exhibition by the illustrious Willie Baxter from Milngavie, who had been the British wrestling team coach at the 1972 Munich Olympics and at the time was a manager in the city’s parks and recreation department.

Willie advised me to warm up, so I decided to have a few laps around the brand new 200 metre running track.

At the time, Tom McKean, one of Scotland’s track greats who would go on to win European and World titles, was being interviewed by one of our national broadcasters for a tea-time piece about the new arena.

Part of their segment was to film Tom jogging round the track. I couldn’t resist the opportunity – I kicked as hard as I could from about 40 yards behind Tom and left him for dust, or so it would seem.

I tuned in that evening and I must have been even faster than I thought, because I couldn’t even be seen whizzing past the future world champ.

If the great man remembers this I hope he can take some consolation. The last I heard, he was a police officer running criminals to ground; I, on the other hand, struggle to run a bath.

Happy memories. Thank you.

Gordon Fisher, Stewarton.